What Medical Students Are Saying About Online Learning

By Catherine Choa (Education Operations Coordinator, EdTech) on May 9, 2022

Although online learning has been utilized in the medical community for years, the pandemic played a huge role in increasing its demand in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. Shifting from face-to-face to online activities for a prolonged period of time allowed educators to provide content in creative and innovative ways. Online learning that incorporates two dimensional (2D) and three dimensional (3D) graphics, and extended reality have shown to further improve learners’ retention of knowledge.

One of EdTech’s collaborative projects is a great example of this. Dr. Sunil Kalia, Paul Milaire, Duncan Hamilton, Taylor Siemens, Angela Chen, and Justin Student developed the “Morphology of Skin Neoplasms” module for UBC Dermatology. This online module enabled medical students to compare different skin lesions using 3D photogrammetry and 2D still photos. A far cry from the classic ‘Click Next’ modules!

Justin Student
Justin Student, Program Manager & Senior Instructional Designer, EdTech

I interviewed Justin, and asked about the medical students’ experiences.

How did 2D still photos and 3D models aid students in identifying key features of different skin lesions?

“That’s a good question! The medical students who tested the 2D still photos reported slightly good to moderately good experiences. They also rated their experience using 3D models as moderately good to extremely good.”

It sounds like having both benefited their learning. Did they explain why?

“Medical students stated that 2D still photos were crucial in differentiating colors. However, moving forward, an improvement would be seeing features more clearly in 2D. 3D models, on the other hand, allowed them to rotate structures from different perspectives and see the depth of each lesion. They expressed that any condition that has 3D features would benefit from this new technology.”

What was the biggest takeaway from this module?

“The main finding was that new technology like 3D doesn’t replace 2D still photos. Overwhelmingly, the [medical students] want to consume both types of media as they offer different advantages. It is well known that new technologies often do not replace old technologies, rather, the new technologies help define the niche of older ones.”

See images below!

Here’s an interactive 2D still photo captured from the module.

Parts of the image would be encircled when participants hovered over each component.

To compare, here’s the 3D model of the same skin lesion taken from the module. Click and hold to rotate.

Feel free to send us an email at edmedia.med@ubc.ca if you have any ideas for a project and are interested in collaborating or looking to work with our team!

Special thanks to Justin Student for contributing to this post!